Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney fined for hit on Brady; Rowe fined for unsportsmanlike penalty

Clowney fined for hit on Brady; Rowe fined for unsportsmanlike penalty

When Tom Brady complained to officials during the third quarter of last week's Divisional Round game against the Texans, he was wondering why Jadeveon Clowney wasn't penalized for a late hit. 

Not only did Brady get the call a little later in the game when Clowney hit him again in the fourth, but Clowney has now been fined for that hit. Per Pro Football Talk, Clowney was docked $18,231 for roughing the passer. 

Brady defended his on-the-field tantrum in the third quarter after Clowney's hit, insisting it may have helped lead to the Patriots being given extra yardage in the fourth. 

"Yeah, I would love to try to make sure the officials are paying close attention," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan show. "If we can get one of those 15-yard penalties, those are important."

Patriots corner Eric Rowe was also fined for his actions during the Divisional Round. He was hit with a $12,154 penalty after picking up an unsportsmanlike penalty for pulling a Texans player off of a scrum in the first quarter

Even in defeat, Texans defense did its job against Brady and the Pats

Even in defeat, Texans defense did its job against Brady and the Pats

FOXBORO -- If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, my aunt would be my uncle.

Or something like that. Anyway, Jadeveon Clowney chose to put a hopeful spin on his team's 34-16 loss to the Patriots by playing some make-believe.

"If you take them plays away (the long passes Tom Brady completed), take the kick return away, we beat them," said the Texans linebacker.

PATRIOTS 34, TEXANS 16

Yes. Maybe they would have. There's no denying the Texans defense played very well against the Patriots and that New England was fairly fortunate to have almost every prayer of a Brady throw answered by a reception.

But they happened and the Texans are going home. Not without a measure of satisfaction on the defensive side of the ball, though.

This team that was raked over by Jacoby Brissett in a 27-0 loss in September showed how much better its defense had become in forcing Brady into a pair of picks and an 18-for-38 night.

"I think we did good," said Clowney. "Hit him when we wanted to. We were getting to him. We were messing him up disguising. Moving around. I don't think -- what was he like, three-for-something on third down? (5-for-16, actually, but still not great.) Yeah, when you're playing that good you expect to win games. [We] just didn't get the outcome that we want."

Clowney was draped on Brady a number of times. Once, he hauled Brady down after Brady threw the ball away and the quarterback was irate, asking for a flag he didn't get. Later, after Clowney tackled Brady after he'd released the ball, Clowney was flagged.

"He was rattled," said Clowney. "We [were] rattling him. Like I said, third-down conversions, what [did] they have? We had them right where we wanted them on third downs. We were getting them in third-and-longs. He was throwing the ball up, getting deep catches, man."

Those downfield throws were somewhat the result of the Texans doing a good job gumming up the short and intermediate areas.

"We understand he loves the short stuff so we just added a little extra into the coverage," said linebacker Whitney Mercilus, who was as big a factor as Clowney. "That's about it. Made him hold the ball and got a couple of sacks but that wasn't enough."

How vital was it to get heat on Brady?

"Huge," said Mercilus. "If you don't get pressure on Brady he's gonna tear you apart. But he still tore us apart in the second half. All the best to the Patriots. You gotta get pressure on Brady, if you don't he'll pick you apart. Bottom line."

The picking apart wasn't complete. There were more instances where Brady had to pick himself up. But the Patriots move on while the Texans defense can only wonder what if . . .

Wildcard Weekend confirms Patriots in class of their own in AFC

Wildcard Weekend confirms Patriots in class of their own in AFC

[This post has been updated following the Steelers’ win over the Dolphins to reflect that the Patriots will face the Texans in the divisional round.]

Hey, so turns out the other AFC playoff teams might stink. Who knew? 

Putting aside that the Patriots already beat the Texans, 27-0, without Tom Brady, it’s tough to look at the results of Wildcard Weekend and be worried by what the Patriots might have coming at them next week or the one after. 

Houston’s got some studs on defense, but take Saturday’s performance with a reminder that it was against a rookie fourth-round quarterback making his first NFL start. And for as dynamite as Jadeveon Clowny was, keep in mind it was against backup tackle Menelik Watson.

Now look at the offense and how the Texans built their lead in that game. After Houston punted on its first drive, the Raiders started their first possession at their 7-yard-line and played like a bunch of idiots. Connor Cook nearly threw a pick-six to Jadeveon Clowney, but the drive ended up being a 3-and-out followed by a bad punt from Marquette King that started the Texans at the Oakland 40. That led to an eight-yard drive from the Texans that yielded a field goal. 

Houston’s next drive came as the result of Cook throwing an interception that gave the Texans a 1st-and-goal at the 4-yard-line. Lamar Miller ran it in on the drive’s first play. 

The Texans built a lead they didn’t relinquish and they did it by starting with excellent field position and jumping on a rookie quarterback’s mistakes. Oh, and Oakland’s defense was below-average this season (21st in the NFL in points allowed, 23rd by Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average), so that Texans offense needed good field position to put up an unspectacular performance against an unspectacular defense. 

Phil Perry recently pointed out that field position doesn't come up often enough in the discussion of why the Patriots shut teams down. Per Football Outsiders, the Patriots gave their opponents the worst average field position to begin drives this season. The Pats also threw two interceptions all season, so it’s not like there’s much evidence New England will do its opponent the kind of favors the Raiders did on Saturday.  

The Steelers, meanwhile, didn’t need good field position to rough up the Dolphins Sunday. Pittsburgh had Antonio Brown, and that was enough for the Steelers to score more points in the first quarter than Miami did in the entire game. One shouldn't be as quick to dismiss them as they should with the Texans.

Still, their competition was so bad in their Wild Card game that it's tough to get a read on whether they're playing great football or thriving in an easy situation. That timely forced fumble in the final minute of the first half with the Dolphins eight yards from a touchdown? Chalk that up to shoddy ball protection from Matt Moore, something no one would expect out of Tom Brady. 

When looking at these teams, and even the No. 2 seed Chiefs, it’s extremely difficult to not pencil the Pats in for the Super Bowl before they’ve even played a postseason game. A very diligent piece by the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier notes that the Pats’ league-best defense in terms of points allowed is statistical fool’s gold and didn’t really play any good offenses this season. Then again, they’re not likely to face one in any of their conference’s playoff games, either. 

The Patriots finished third in the NFL (and tops in the AFC) in points scored. Of the other AFC playoff teams, know was second in that category? You saw them get eliminated Saturday. 

The Steelers were tied for 10th in points scored this season. The Chiefs were 13th and the Texans were tied for 28th. 

In the Patriots’ only loss with Tom Brady under center this season, they allowed 31 points to the Seahawks. Between all the other remaining AFC playoff teams, only the Steelers had a 31-point game against a playoff team this season, and they did it against the Chiefs. Sure, Pittsburgh put up 30 points Sunday, but that was against a Miami team that allowed an average of 23.8 points per game during the regular season.

This isn't to discredit the weapons that Pittsburgh has. Brown was a monster Sunday and so too was Le'Veon Bell (167 rushing yards, two touchdowns). Ben Roethlisber remains Ben Roethlisberger. The issue is that, should the teams potentiallly meet in a potential AFC Championship, the Patriots would put up a hell of a lot more than the six points the mediocre Dolphins mustered.

Is there a team in this bunch that’s really going to put a ton of points on the Patriots this postseason while also clamping down Instagram Tom and Co.? It’s hard to imagine that based on what we've seen thus far in the playoffs.